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Athol Williams is a businessman, philosopher and award-winning poet with 5 Masters Degrees. Hys vannie Mitchell’s Plain, ma hys vê van plain af.

Mr. Williams holds degrees from some of the top universities in the world – WITS, MIT, London Business School, Harvard University and Oxford University. He is currently obtaining his PhD at Oxford University. He finished his primary and secondary education in Mitchell’s Plain, driven by excellence and stubbornness, he had his own struggles with studies and being Coloured, but he set himself apart from his struggle. He says, “I had a vision and it’s linked to this idea of being Coloured, where it was built into our psyche that we were second class citizens.”

Sharing his love for reading through RISE to READ

As a youngster, Athol spent most of his free time at the Westridge library. He remembers, “I was a regular at the Westridge public library, I’d be there every week making sure I had enough to read. I loved ideas, so it wasn’t to study in order to get a job or be someone, it was for the love of it.”  

Williams has written numerous books and published his autobiography, Pushing Boulders, in 2016. He has written 5 children’s books in the OAKY series.

He is still a firm believer in the power and magic that reading holds, he now has a personal library filled with books, some are up to 400 years old. Athol and his wife Taryn started the READ to RISE organisation in September 2013, a non-profit organisation committed to promoting youth literacy in schools across South Africa.

Athol is the Chairman of READ to RISE and has contributed a lot of his own money to fund books and operational costs. Taryn left corporate life to focus on setting up and running the non-profit organisation.  

READ to RISE has visited 45 schools in Mitchell’s Plain, where they worked with grades 2 and 3. They have also started a READ to RISE branch in Johannesburg in 2015 where last year they visited 30 schools working with grade 3 and 4 learners. Athol and Taryn go with illustrations in hand and their OAKY mascot to get learners excited about reading. Each learner gets to walk away with a book of their own.

Athol and his wife, Taryn, take the Oaky mascot along to all Read to Rise mobile libraries

Read to Rise Partners

READ to RISE is very proud to be among the few education NGOs to be selected by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) as an official partner in promoting literacy in schools.  Through this partnership, Oaky books are distributed and mini-libraries are deployed to under-resourced primary schools across all 9 provinces.

The organisation has also partnered with Qualibooks to distribute books, reference materials and mobile libraries in communities. Other partners include Theart Press, Liberty Two Degrees, Finereads and Art of Travel.

“I want to, By my words and deeds, enable and inspire others to thrive”

Athol Williams